Seaside fish and chip shops are a national treasure. Here are 20 of the best | restaurants

IIt would be grossly unfair to the many fabulous inland chippies in this country to say that the best spots for fish and chips in Britain are down by the sea. There are many brilliant practitioners of the fine craft of frying across the UK. But with our national dish, context undoubtedly matters; that the virtuoso interplay of breaded white fish and fried potatoes just tastes better by the sea, ideally made from an unwrapped white paper gift, made translucent in places by a smear of hot oil from the gift inside.

Forgot tables. Forgot chairs. You need to be on the beach itself or, at your fingertips, perched on a seawall, overlooking British waters the color of a days-old bruise rippling to the horizon under a gunmetal-grey sky. You unpack and instantly get a whiff of hot, trapped air that smells of all the good things in life. The warmth alone feels like a soothing challenge to the cold winds blowing off the sea. Your dinner takes care of you.

Then there’s the sweet dance of your food with the honking air here by the water. Some chefs working at the forefront of gastronomy have experimented with complex air sprays to enhance the experience of their dishes: a spritz of something that smells of pine and juniper to evoke hints of the forest for a game dish, for example, or a Burst an artificial campfire to fuel a griddle. Funnily enough, Mother Nature has these covered for a long time. The smell of salt in the air down on the beach, along with the occasional pop of a freshly stocked fishing boat, will give you all the sensory cues you need. It just makes your fish and chips taste better.

And there’s something else. There was sometimes concern that fish and chips were a truly hearty dish designed for a time when more of us were engaged in calorie-burning manual labour, despite being nutritionally balanced with its combination of proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Surely, a fish dinner on the couch at home can feel like a glorious treat that sends you falling into the sweet embrace of a food coma. Eroded by the sea, where the winds roar and the sand gives way under your feet, there is no room for words like indulgence. This is sustenance as a necessity. It’s a matter of survival. Or at least you can tell yourself so if you expend even more energy fending off snotty seagulls, determined to give them a chip. Or seven. It’s all part of the experience. There are good reasons why fish and chips were not rationed during the two world wars. It was never just one dish; a clever combination of fried fish in batter and fried potato chips. It’s a matter of morality, of comfort, of identity. And the very best place to eat it is down by the sea. Jay Rayner

The Lifeboat House, Coverack, Cornwall

In a pretty Cornish fishing harbor on the Lizard Peninsula, you can enjoy your freshly baked fish on the harbor wall with stunning views over the lifeboat slipway across the bay and beyond

Coast, Blyth, Northumberland

A sign tells you which potatoes are fried, alongside proper northern helpings of mushy peas, gravy and curry sauce

Beach Buoys, Margate, Kent

Thoroughly Margate in his creative way with smashed cucumbers and banana blossoms and tofu; crab-laden fries and squid mayonnaise live happily alongside classic cod and fries

Maggie’s Cafe, Hastings, Sussex

Located in the old net shops, Maggie’s sources fish direct from the boats. The original cafe has been complemented by neighboring Maggie’s at the Boat with fishy street food options

Middle Street Fish Bar, Deal, Kent

Sticks to the Chippy tradition even as Deal gentrifies around it; large portions and cups of tea, but the back room has recently had a lick of paint

Bardsley’s, Brighton, East Sussex

A stroll from the seafront, but Brighton connoisseurs come for chips and sustainably caught cod; All fish can also be grilled and poached

Fish ‘n’ Fritz, Weymouth, Dorset

Just off the harbor, this Chippy small restaurant attached regularly wins awards for both food and service

Mersea Island Fish Bar, Essex

Cross the causeway to find top quality fish ‘n’ chips, rollmops and jelly eels alongside a shop selling Mersea’s famous oysters

Adam’s Fish and Chips, St Martin’s, Isles of Scilly

Adam catches the Pollock; Brother James grows the potatoes; Mrs. Fiona runs the café, which Adam also found time to build

Atkinsons, Morecambe, Lancaster

Right next to Morecambe’s prom, a large helping of sustainably sourced haddock and chips costs less than a tenner. Spuds are grown in Lancashire and everything is served in biodegradable crates

Aldeburgh Fish & Chips Ship, Suffolk

This chippy on the high street has reigned supreme since 1967. Best accompanied by a pint of Adnams Ghost Ship and a squirt of pineapple fritters (50p) for dessert

Colmans, South Shields, Tyne & Wear

Part of Sandhaven history since the 1920’s. Scampi are covered with a batter according to a secret recipe and served with homemade tartar sauce

The Magpie Cafe, Yorkshire

There’s a reason this Whitby landmark has queues lining the streets whatever the weather or season – their chip butty is perfection at a whopping £2.95

Britannia on the Beach, Devon

In the tiny village of Beesands, the Hutchings family have turned their bait shop into a restaurant and it’s getting rave reviews

Mortons, Ballycastle, County Antrim

You can settle down by the harbor and see Scotland’s Mull of Kintyre while eating fish brought in on the shop’s own boat

East Pier Smokehouse, St Monans, Fife

Tempura batter on top of shrimp, Cullen skink and lobster on a good stop along the Fife Coastal Walk

The Bay, Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire

A tried and true diner with pleasant modern touches – specially brewed beer and an app to keep customers up to date on which boats have landed the day’s catch

Frankies, Brae, Shetlands

Britain’s most northerly chippy showcases its island’s superb seafood, including langoustine tails; Chips are optionally available with Orkney cheese

D Fecci & Sons, Tenby, Pembrokeshire

Celiacs can eat here without fear thanks to rice flour batter, separate fryers and utensils, gluten-free sauces, and vinegars

Enochs, Llandudno

In Conwy’s sweet coast capital, everything is fried in high oleic sunflower oil; the catch is MSC certified and all packaging is compostable and 25p goes to the RNLI with every fishcake sale

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